Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cast Iron Skillet Lemon Roasted Chicken - Ina Garten Recipe

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!  Tender, juicy, crispy with a lemon onion garlic herb wine sauce.  This is an Ina Garten's recipe so I knew it would be good.  I just didn't know how good!  Where has this chicken been all my life!  The first thing about this recipe that you need to know is you spatchcock a whole chicken.  Spatchcock:  a culinary preparation in which the backbone of a whole chicken (or turkey) is removed so it can be cooked flat.  I've never spatchcocked a whole chicken so I had to look it up in a video ** here.   Who knew it was so easy.  I didn't, but I do now and I will be spatchcocking whole chickens for now on!  Okay, enough with the spatchcock, let's talk bout this recipe.  The chicken turns out juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside.  The fresh lemons, after they roast and get caramelized, meld with the onion, garlic and wine to make the most flavorful sauce. You can even eat the rind and all.   I'm going to make it again next week because it was that good, so easy and I have some fresh herbs to use up.  I have a feeling I'll be making this often!
Check out Ina Garten's video on this recipe here.


2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt (I used a little less)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon, halved and sliced, seeds removed (1/4 inch thick)
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 (4 lbs) whole chicken, backbone removed and Spatchcocked *see note below or **video above)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc - Kim Crawford)
2 wedges of lemon, squeeze on top when done (I didn't squeeze on top, it was lemony enough for me)


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the thyme, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper in a mini food processor and process until ground.  Mix with olive oil and set aside.

Layer the lemon slices in a 12 inch cast iron skillet, then onions and garlic.  Place the chicken, skin side down, on top of the onion and brush with about half the oil herb mixture.  Turn the chicken skin side up, pat it dry with paper towels (this helps it get crisp), and brush it all over with the rest of the oil and herb mixture.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes.  Pour the wine into the pan (around the chicken, not on top) and roast for another 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the oven, sprinkle it with the lemon juice, cover the skillet tightly with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Cut the chicken into quarters and serve hot with the pan juices, cooked lemon and onions.

*note - Using kitchen scissors, cut down either side of chicken’s backbone. Turn over and place chicken breast side up, then press down on breastbone to flatten.

Strawberry Preserves (small batch)

When I started making yogurt in my instant pot awhile back, I've never stopped.  When one batch is gone I make another.  It's not a sweet yogurt and for me, it needs a little sweetness.  I started out with a drizzle of honey, fresh fruit, and my homemade granola.  It's delish that way but I needed some variety.   Swirling a dollop of homemade fruit preserves is just what this yogurt needed!  It's a perfect consistency to swirl in and adds the perfect sweetness.  So far I've made a batch of strawberry and blueberry.  It's also delicious on toast!

  • Ingredients:
  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered if large (or blueberries)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • Instructions:
  1. In a saucepan heat strawberries on medium heat for 5-8 minutes to release their liquid (easier to stir in sugar).
  2. Turn heat down to low, add sugar and stir until dissolved.  Add lemon zest and juice.
  3. Increase heat to medium and bring mixture to a slow boil.
  4. Stir frequently mashing the strawberries as you stir, continuing to a slow boil until jam is thickened about 20 minutes.
  5. Transfer jam to tightly lidded jars (leave a little room on top for expansion when freezing) and let cool to room temperature.
  6. When cool store in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks (or freeze for 3 months)
  • Makes about 2 cups 

*Additional tip:  If you have a thermometer when the jam reaches 215 F, it’s ready.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


Right now this is my source for Some Good News with John Krasinski.  I had to share in hope that this will put a smile on your face!  If you'd like to see the first episode chick here.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Italian Sausage with Cheddar Grits and Cherry Tomatoes Topped with Fried Egg

I'm not a huge breakfast person or I should say, I don't like eating early in the morning.  After 10:00am is when I start getting hungry for breakfast.  Usually on Sundays, after church, we go out for brunch.  Now that we are watching church from our couch and restaurants are closed I've had to step up my game this Sunday to make a hearty delicious brunch, something a little different.  I'm blogging the recipe minutes after I've eaten because it's easy, delicious and took about 30 minutes.  Now that's a keeper!!

Ingredients (serves 4 large portions)


  • 3 cups, water
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 + 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking grits (or regular grits *)
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage  (casings removed if using links)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons chopped jarred sweet cherry peppers, plus 1 tablespoon brine
  • ¾ cup beef broth
  • Serve sprinkled with thinly sliced scallions
  • 4 eggs
1.  Bring water, butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to boiling in a saucepan over high heat.  Whisk in grits.  Cover, reduce heat to low, cook, whisking occasionally until grits are cooked through 5-7 minutes for quick cooking and *20-25 for regular grits.  Turn off heat and stir in cheddar.  Set aside and cover to keep warm.

2.  While the grits are cooking, cook sausage and onion in a skillet over medium heat until sausage is cooked through and onion is lightly browned 7-8 minutes, breaking up sausage with a wooden spoon.  With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage and onion to a bowl, set aside.  Pour off most of the fat from skillet.

3.  Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Add tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cook until starting to brown, about 3 minutes.  Stir in peppers another 2 minutes.  Add broth, pepper brine and reserved sausage mixture to skillet and cook 3 minutes to heat through.

4. In another skillet fry eggs over medium. (or however you like your eggs)

5. In individual bowls serve sausage over cheesy grits and top with eggs.
   **Recipe adapted from Cook's Country Magazine                                                 

Here's the ingredient list to serve 2

  • 1 1/2 cups, water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2.5 oz (a little over 1/3 cup) quick-cooking grits (or regular grits *)
  • 2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 pound (or 2 links) sweet Italian sausage  (casings removed if using links)
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 5 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped jarred sweet cherry peppers, plus 1/2 tablespoon brine
  • 1/3 cup beef broth
  • Serve sprinkled with thinly sliced scallions
  • 4 eggs

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Instant Pot Yogurt - Cold Start

There are so many recipes and information for instant pot yogurt on the internet, it will make your head spin!  I settled on making the cold start method as it seemed the easiest.  This is the first recipe I tried and it turned out perfect.  Why try any other, one and done!  It's from the blog, Pipping Hot Curry.  Below I'm going to share the exact ingredients and instructions I use but if you need any more info check out Pipping Hot Curry.  She goes into detail about the kind of milk, starter, and sweetener you must use for cold start to turn out.  

*Very important before starting - sterilize your pot first.  It's not enough to just clean because you never want your yogurt tasting like last night's dinner.  I even went as far as having a designated pot just for yogurt.  To sterilize, you simply pour boiling water in the inner pot and discard it or pressure cook one cup water one minute to sanitize.  I'm not sure if this matters but I always make sure my pot is back to room temperature before I start.  Being a cold start method I don't want to start it out in a hot pan.  


  • 52-ounce Fairlife Whole Milk 
  • 2 tablespoons Fage Yogurt (*see note below)
  • 1/2 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk


  • Add milk, yogurt and 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk to Instant Pot insert. Whisk together very well to incorporate completely.
  • Place on instant pot lid or a glass lid.  (It doesn't pressure cook so you can use any lid)
  • Push the Yogurt button and use the +/- buttons and set time to 8 hours. (mine automatically sets for 8 hours)
  • When the yogurt cycle is completed and the Instant Pot beeps, DON'T (**see note) stir but carefully remove the lid not letting the condensation drip into the yogurt.  Remove the inner pot and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  (**see note) At this point, if it's not as thick as you like, strain in a yogurt strainer.  
  • Enjoy yogurt with your favorite flavor and toppings. 


*After you have made your first batch of yogurt, be sure to scoop 2 tablespoons of the yogurt into a small container and freeze to use for making the next batch.  This will be your new yogurt starter, you won't have to buy another container of yogurt again.  Just defrost in the refrigerator overnight and add to the milk and condensed milk.

**The yogurt needs several hours in the fridge to set up and thicken so don't be tempted to stir!

***Strain or not to strain - I've made it both ways and I prefer not straining.  Not straining you get a creamy smooth texture and straining it, it is thicker but not as smooth.  Recently I read you can use a hand mixer (a whisk just doesn't do the trick) to get the strained yogurt more smooth.  I'll have to give it a try and let you know.                                                                                                                                                                                             

Monday, March 23, 2020

Chicken Mango Avocado Salad

I've been asked what I'm making these days in isolation. Even for me, who enjoys cooking, having to prepare three meals a day and only going to the grocery store as little as possible is a huge ordeal.  I'm used to going to the grocery store almost daily but the new normal is stocking the freezer and using up the fresh ingredients I have so they don't go to waste.  It has taken a lot of organization.  I have a list on my fridge on what leftovers I have and meals I can make.  Each day I look to see what needs to be eaten first.  Today we had yogurt, fruit and granola for breakfast, this salad for lunch (below) and Italian meatloaf with roasted vegetables for dinner.  I got this salad recipe from Natashia's Kitchen.  On her blog, she makes a large salad that serves 8.  Here, I've adjusted it to make 2 meal-size portion salads for my husband and I.  When the day comes that I can have others over for dinner the full size will be on the menu.  It's delicious!  It has chunks of juicy mangos, creamy avocado, crunchy veggies, and the chicken makes it a hearty satisfying meal.  Right now, we all need the extra comfort good food can bring.  In a few days, I'll be back to share with you the instant pot yogurt I've been making.  It too is delicious, so easy and I make it often.  It's nice to always have fresh yogurt in the fridge for breakfast or a healthy snack.  Enjoy and stay healthy!!

I ended up making an extra chicken breast so that I could make it again the next day so to use up the 1/2 avocado and 1/2 mango.
The next day the mango was good but the avocado got a little brown, which was fine but next time I'll just buy a smaller avocado and use it all.  Avocados are best eaten fresh.

Chicken Avocado Mango Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 medium chicken breast (sprinkled with garlic salt and freshly ground pepper)
  • tsp olive oil (I like to use avocado oil as it has a higher smoke point)
  • 3-4 cups romaine lettuce rinsed, chopped and spun dry
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cucumber sliced
  • 1//2 mango pitted, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 avocado pitted, peeled and diced (or 1 small)
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, diced 
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
  • 2 tablespoons almonds toasted, for topping

Honey Vinaigrette Dressing: (I make the full recipe for dressing as it's great on any salad)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard 
  • 2 tsp honey 
  • 1 garlic clove - 1 tsp minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper 


How to Make Chicken Mango Avocado Salad

  1. Cut chicken breast in half lengthwise then season with garlic salt and pepper to taste and saute in oil over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan, cool for 5 minutes then slice into strips against the grain.

  2. In two large salad bowls, add chopped romaine. Top with cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, diced mango and avocado, red onion and cilantro.

How to Make Honey Vinaigrette Dressing:

  1. Combine the Honey Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.  If not using dressing right away, shake well just before serving. Drizzle over salad.